Embracing Winter Days (like Dirtgirl)

Lately I’ve been hearing a message I really dislike:  Keep your kids out of the winter weather.  I’m not sure where the message is coming from, or why.  Of course we have to make allowances for weather, but there is no need to keep kids indoors.  Outdoor play is an important part of a child’s day – every day.

Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote here on the blog about Playing Whatever the Weather:

I don’t think we can expect children to tolerate extremes of temperature they are not accustomed to, but I do think they should be able to enjoy outside time in their home climate.  For my kids, temperatures range from about 10 degrees celsius in winter, through to around 35 degrees in summer.  Winter play means wearing lots of layers.  The days start chilly, but do warm up and beanies need to be replaced with sunhats.  Winter play doesn’t mean staying inside with the heater on.  Summer play means sunscreen, hats and sun-safe clothing.  It also means drinking plenty of water, and playing out of the sun during the hottest times.  Summer play doesn’t mean staying inside with the airconditioning on!  Ok, yes there are days when I use the heater in winter, and the air con in summer – but we don’t stay trapped inside and I always find the kids have more fun outdoors.

A year on, I am nodding along to my own words. My opinion hasn’t changed.  I still think it’s important for kids to get outside, whatever the weather.  Next week the school holidays start, and I know it will be a great opportunity for my two munchkins to play together outside.  Here’s what a typical home day in the winter holidays looks like for us (with the morning routine relaxed because we’re not in a rush to get to school):

  • 6:30 – 7:30 Breakfast
  • 7:30 – 8:30 Get dressed, brush teeth, make beds, do morning jobs
  • 8:30 – 9:30 Play inside (or help Mum with housework)
  • 9:30 – 10:30 Morning tea and outside free play
  • 10:30 – 12:00 Creative activity together, preferably outside (anything from painting to playing pirates!)
  • 12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
  • 12:30 – 1:30 Quiet Time in bedrooms (read or rest)
  • 1:30 – 3:30 Outside free play or continuing activity and afternoon tea
  • 3:30 – 4:00 Pack up sandpit, outside toys, creative mess
  • 4:00 – 5:30 Play inside, TV on (while Mum gets dinner ready)
  • 5:30 – 6:15 Dinner and bathtime
  • 6:15 – 7:00 Stories and BED

It’s a pretty fluid schedule – times are just there to give you an idea. You can see though that the kids can easily have three or four hours outside during the warmest parts of the day.  I know that some days they will have extra time outdoors, because they’ll be keen to get outside straight after breakfast despite the chill, or because they’re still hunting for dinosaur eggs at 4:30 and haven’t noticed the temperature dropping!

I don’t mind the tv going on in the late afternoons at all.  I know that the kids have had lots of outside time, and they’ve usually had enough of each other by then.  We’re all getting tired, crankiness creeps in, and I need to get dinner ready.  And what do I put on? Dirtgirlworld of course!

Dirtgirl knows that winter is wonderful outside.  She loves winter’s nourishing soups, rugging up in lovely warm clothing and gumboots, and making the most of the sun when it’s out – even if it’s just for a little bit.  Me and Dirtgirl? We’re so on the same page.  Even when my kids are watching tv, they are getting the message that outside is where the fun is at.  Dirtgirl and Scrapboy give my kids ideas for tomorrow’s play, and encourage them to get their boots on and head outside all over again.

Thanks to my friend Dirtgirl (and the gang at Madman) I have five amazing prize packs to give away. Each one has the Winter DVD, as well as Dirtgirlworld’s Spring, Summer and Autumn DVD collections!  To win all four seasons DVDs, just leave a comment below sharing what your kids like to do outside in WINTER.

Usual rules apply: Aussie residents only, one entry per person, winners drawn randomly, comp closes Sunday 26th June 6pm Qld time.

If you’re a fan, you might like to follow Dirtgirlworld on facebook and twitter, and check out all the cool stuff starting to happen on their blog too.

47 thoughts on “Embracing Winter Days (like Dirtgirl)

  1. Despite it being cold wet and windy down here at the moment, my big kids always head outside after school… even if just for a quick run around and to feed the guinea pigs. I need more encouragement to get the baby outside… not because I think he wouldn’t love it… but because I don’t like the cold! But a recent afternoon without power saw me rug everyone up, put the plastic pants on Noey and head to the park… and what do you know, even I enjoyed it!

  2. During winter the trampoline is a great outside activity.. All that jumping keeps them active and really warm!! We also like to have outside picnics in the sun – I love the morning winter sun.. Not too hot.

  3. We’ve been enjoying running races around the house, bouncing on the trampoline (with the added static!) and planting new vegies and herbs in our garden. Oh and you’ll love this one Cath…..climbing the one and only tree in our yard!! I didn’t think it would be strong enough but it is and Miss M (followed by Miss H) think it’s great.

    Dirtgirl is a favourite here too. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway opportunity.

  4. My 2 and 4 year old seem oblivious to the weather conditions! Our outside winter play usually consists of swings, bikes, hide and seek in our luscious front garden where there is lots of foliage to hide in! And the ALL TIME favourite, collecting all manner of leaves, twigs and flowers in individual buckets. Today it is blowing a gale outside and both have nasty coughs so we are staying indoors making flowers out of pop sticks and patty pans. Tomorrow we will walk to the library and kindy, once again collecting sticks and leaves etc on the way and stopping at a particular fence along the way where we always play shops! This week I am also hoping to do the fizzy sidewalk paint I read about yesterday in the Playopedia, if the rain holds off!

  5. Coats, hats and gum boots on My kids (I have two boys, 3 and 4 and a girl 7) and I love going on ‘photo walks’ in the winter. As long as its not raining it doesn’t matter how cold it is, we head out on a walk around the garden, the neighbourhood or the local park and take photos of what we see. The kids have a kid safe camera that they share and my bigger girl (she is 7) gets to use Mummy’s old camera. When we come home we sometimes print them and make scrapbook pages with them. SOmetimes we make a slideshow together to show daddy when he gets home.

  6. The small round man loves to build traintracks for his trains out of bricks across the grass. He also loves bumping down the stairs on his small climbing area on his bottom!

    Such great weather here in Brisbane today :)

  7. I have to confess that my boys are a little old for Dirtgirl but my Day Care kiddies LOVE her! Would love to have a copy here for them to watch occassionally :)

    I have a huge patio area that is shaded/sheltered all year round so even when it’s pouring with rain we can get out and enjoy ALL our usual outdoor fun :) Playing in my big sandpit is ALWAYS a favourite.

  8. We’re lucky living in Qld – our winters are so mild. My 2 boys have even been known to play with the hose in winter (see my blog), but on the coldest days they can be found in the sandpit building cities, or excavating the driveway. My youngest likes to chase our chickens, as well.
    Our 4yo has recently seen dirtgirl on ABC2 and now has great plans of converting our 3/4 acre block into a copy of dirtgirl’s farm. He has already recruited his aunty who has drawn up the plans, hired the bobcat and is collecting the supplies. Looking forward to it!

  9. The girls are enjoying a lot more time jumping on the trampoline at the moment without it being too hot.

  10. My boys seem to not feel the cold. They are always outside. I have to chase them with jumpers and make them put shoes and socks on in the afternoons. With our neighbours children they are playing in the tree, riding bikes, chasing, dancing in the street, building a robot with outdoor furniture (the latest construction) or swinging from a tree on a rope. I have trouble getting them inside most days.

  11. In Tassie, it’s pretty wet and cold most days! I bought the kids waterproof pants this year, they are the best thing! We can go out in any weather! We have a vacant block opposite our house (in a quiet cul de sac) and the boys love playing over there and having adventures. There’s a volcano, and dinosaurs roam freely. There’s a ‘cliff’ they enjoy sliding down and then helping each other climb back up. They get pretty muddy – but they love it!

  12. We play on the patio with the warm sun on it in the mornings and play outside in the afternoon when the sun is on that side of the house. My kids love to ride their bikes and scooters. Lately we’ve been doing chalk drawings on the concrete down the side of the house.

  13. Bike-riding is the flavour of the month for us. The boys keep warm peddling, and me chasing them! Collecting sticks for kindling is also lots of fun and keeps us busy for a long time. Aside from those, the usuals: trampoline, running, park visits, exploring and collecting things – We’ve noticed there seems to be a lot of feathers up our way in Far North QLD at the moment – nice little side-lesson on migration for the kidlets ; )

  14. Little Eco loves to walk in the rain. She ruggs up in layers, raincoat, gumboots, and a beanie. She also loves jumping in puddles, so often comes home with wet pants. I don’t mind her getting a little wet. I simply throw her in a warm bath to warm up when we get home.

    I actually love getting outdoors in winter. Although I don’t like how early it’s getting dark. I’m so glad we have passed the winter solstice. Bring on the longer days!

  15. Our family (5 month old twins and a toddler included) just took a visit to Mount Tamborine. Okay, yes, it’s colder there but we had a blast freezing our bum off at the glow worm caves and frog Bog! We will be visiting heaps in winter – especially to the chocolate shop to get some nice warm liquid into our tummies!

  16. We’re a southern WA family just moved to the NT, Australia. So our winter here is 17 – 26 degrees – nice. But when we first moved it was the “wet” we would go outside to the street drain and float frangipani flowers and leaves down the roadside drain! My Master loved it. PS, love dirt girl too! Thanks for your “routine” got me inspired to be better organised, my Master is needing it at the moment.

  17. We love running down to our vegie patch with beanies and gumboots in the morning to check out if there are any beans to munch on. Lately, Mr almost 4 has gotten into creating obstacle courses for us to do – we use sticks, cricket bats, T-ball stand etc to jump over/run around/climb over/balance on. It’s fun and it gets the brain working as to how we can use things in a different way.

  18. We really enjoy watching dirtgirl in our house, I would have to say my two kids like to soak up some winter sunshine, jump really high on our trampoline and will always find some water somewhere to get wet (crazy I know) especially if it has been raining or if it hasn’t their feet will always end up in the dogs water bowl before too long

  19. At the moment the girls like to ride their bikes and scooters any chance they can get. They also love playing in the sandpit under the fort and out of the cold westerly breezes we get up here in Toowoomba!!

  20. At the moment my children’s favourite outisde activity is bottle feeding an adorable baby lamb that we are caring for.

  21. My kids and I spend lots of time outdoors – EVERYTHING is better outside. Picnics in the yard, playing in the sandpit, cubby, painting, riding bikes and making up rescue stories. They love to be free, explore and generally have a ball in the sun.

  22. In Toowoomba we are lucky enough to have Autumn leaves. We kick them, throw them, roll in them, scrunch them, and use them for craft. Basically we delight in them, endless, creative or destructive play outside!

  23. My kids love heading outside no matter the weather. Their favourite things to do, no matter the weather is to play in the sand as well as collect different leaves/nature items. It is too easy to just hide inside on those cold days but we all have fun at the park. We have recently purchased a good quality frisbee that the kids love playing with.

  24. My two girls love our yard and garden , the veggie patch is needing some love today , they are willing and helpful ( need to move crops and compost , weed , mulch and water) my 2 yo loves doing the JOBS , our routine in summer and winter is similar , except of course the layers.
    An out door treat for us is going to our most treasured park and sliding (fast) down the hill in fruit boxes always ends in hysterical belly laughs (whatever the season)

  25. We are going out today using an old post of yours about plant nurseries as an inspiration. Thanks Cath!

  26. This post reminders me of a favourite quote from an outdoor pre-school in Norway. “There is no bad weather just bad clothes”. I love this and use it often to remind me to rug up the kids and get them out in the cold Canberra winter days.
    The kids love gardening and bike riding at the moment. Unfortunately they continue to enjoy watering the plants and themselves! a nice warm bath ends many outdoor sessions.

  27. My kids love to rug up and go visit the elderley lady next door. Aparantly she makes the MOST delicious jam sangas!

  28. The Trampoline is always a favourite, with not so much sweat which is nice. My girls love chasing each other on bikes and scooters, or just on foot. Running in general really. :)

  29. Miss 2 Loves the outside world!!! Splashing in puddles with her purple oversized gumboots to jumping on the crispy leaves all over the front yard. She loves the crunchy noise they make :P

  30. My boys LOVE dirtgirl.. even the ads for dirtgirl get them excited!! haha
    We have been out preparing and planting the garden up with new veges. Daddy built them a ‘fort’ not long ago so when they aren’t riding bikes and trikes around they are playing in the fort. Yesterday we had a picnic in the fort – was very fun and it’s lovely to get out in the sun on a cold winter’s day!! ;)

  31. We like to rug up and go for walk along the waterfront, collecting shells, sticks, sand, seed pods, whatever special treasures we can find, as we stroll along, chase seagulls n then play at the park. Then once we are home we create a collage of our goodies together and make up story about our adventure to go in our special outings storybook we started a long time ago.

  32. Nothing beats the trampline in winter. My son is so disappointed if we don’t get at least 1/2 hour on it every day! It’s also most comfortable for lying on while doing some cloud watching.

  33. We love to get outside and walk to the park or ride our bikes along the river. We love exploring our little rainforest walk and finding leaves and sticks to take home with us. A picnic blanket is a must to rest at our destination and soak up the winter sun.

  34. We love to pull on our old clothes and shoes and jump oaround outside , weather it be leaf and stick said boats in the puddles or taking the umbrella and camera out for a wonder around to see what we can find that looks different in the wet then it does dry :)
    when it is not raining but ground is very wet we explore what sort of things leave imprints in the mud-very messy but very fun :)
    other then that our out door time in wet tassy winter seems to consist of painting/playdough/puzzles on the veranda, grabbing the scooter and getting out there even if only for 10min in the breaks of weather , and running from shelter to shelter as we wonder around a new place and find a warm place to enjoy a hot chocolate ……..does that count hehehehe

  35. the trampoline is always a winner because its cool and they can bounce without getting too hot. helping me in the garden or craft and painting on the deck are also favourites :) especially in the beautiful winter sun!

  36. my girls love trampolining, even if it’s raining! they rug up and get out there and jump until it’s dark and their noses are almost frozen off.

  37. My boys loving rugging up and getting outside in the tree house. Looking for insects and playing on the tyre swing is soooo much fun!

  38. During our first Brissy winter our driveway has been used for handball, basketball,soccer ,scooting, painting of various kinds, and pushing bears and dolls in prams and trucks.

  39. my kids love chalk drawing on the driveway and riding bikes in the park near our house.

  40. Anything that involves helping his Dad… I think that involved building a retaining wall and leveling some ground today. All I know is that I have NEVER seen such muddy hands in my entire life!

  41. We love doing outdoor play in winter, but really it is much colder here and you can’t allow them that much time totally outside. M two year old has actually turned blue before and required significant warming up. Instead, sometimes we need t bring the outside in. We collect outside things on a walk and use them for craft, we pull out books that might have petals that were placed in them last year and discuss the spring flowers that will be here soon.

    But mainly I love Dirt girl, I love the songs. A little too much.

  42. My boys love dirt girl world.
    I love outside play in winter.
    My boys play in the mud and make me mud ‘choc’ pies, take green food colouring from the pantry and turn the sand green (on DAD’s watch) , ride bikes, play sand pie cafe with the teddies , ride bikes, jump on trampoline and help Dad wash the car or garden (pick all roses off the bushes for me LOL how can I get mad).

  43. My girls do all the same things outside in winter as they do in summer – play on the swings, ride bikes, play in the sandpit, chasings, jumping on the trampoline. Our backyard gets full sun in the middle of the day – so it’s actually better to play outside in winter than it is in summer at our place on a sunny day!
    We love dirtgirlworld. My 3-year-old likes to have ‘dirt girl world hair’ with 3 pony tails sticking out of her head!

  44. Weather does not prevent kids from doing what they want. Kids are kids. They play and they learn while doing so. The best thing for us moms to do is to make sure the kids are protected when they play outdoors. I like your idea of getting a list of things to do in a day. But sometimes we also need to be flexible in our schedules.

  45. We are really enjoying getting out the local national parks. We pack a picnic and the camera and for most of it follow the path! But sow of the really good experiences was when we investigated a termite mound and found the roostion rocks of Falcons! Boys lo Ed to learn about the shallow track from the animal ls and we are still poo spotting and trying to match it to the right animal! Great fun!

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